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Dutch Cello Sonatas Vol 1 / Hochscheid, Van Ruth

Hochscheid,Doris / Van Ruth,Frans
Release Date: 01/12/2010 
Label:  Audiomax   Catalog #: 9031534   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Willem PijperLuctor PonseRudolf Escher
Performer:  Doris HochscheidFrans van Ruth
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DUTCH CELLO SONATAS, VOL. 1 • Doris Hochscheid (vc); Frans van Ruth (pn) • AUDIOMAX 903 1534-6 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 75:56)

PIJPER Sonata (1919). Sonata No. 2. PONSE Sonata (1943). ESCHER Sonata concertante

"Willem Pijper (1894-1947) was Holland’s most influential composer between the First and Second World Wars. Wildly avant-garde for his era—in a most conservative musical society—he and his many pupils were responsible for dragging Dutch music into the 20th century (Vermeulen’s equally radical music had less influence at the time). The first of Pijper’s two Cello and Piano Sonatas was written in 1919, when the young composer was beginning to free himself of turn-of-the-century influences from Paris to
Read more Vienna. Its three movements give the impression of a young firebrand sending out sparks in every direction. Hints of Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and even Falla burst through the surface occasionally, but this is music striking out on its own. It is filled with difficult-to-pin-down polytonalties, and though it now sounds like what it probably was—a grand experiment—it remains exciting and fresh. In this it is aided by a stunning performance. Two earlier recordings of Pijper’s Cello Sonatas, on Donemus’s Composers’ Voice and on Erasmus CDs, are now easily dismissed; both play the notes and represent the score, but neither gets inside the music as do Hochscheid and van Ruth. They are way beyond issues of technical prowess, shaping beautiful phrases and producing gorgeous colors, convincing us that this is what Pijper is all about. Seldom has a cello-and-piano team seemed so unified, in intent and in action; the phrase “on the same page” doesn’t do them justice—one mind with four hands is more fitting. Pijper’s Second Cello Sonata, written four years later, seems more conservative, if only because it is under tighter control. If less intriguing than the First Sonata, it is more satisfying. Praising each performance here would become monotonous; Hochscheid and van Ruth are the masters of every work. Both teach at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and it comes as no surprise to read that they have performed together for years.

Luctor Ponse (1914-1998) was a pianist (he plays on the Dorati recording of Bartók’ s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion) who took up composing late in life. Although he eventually adopted the 12-tone system and later wrote electronic music, the early (1943) Cello Sonata is basically Romantic, with a touch of Debussy for spice. It is nevertheless winning music of strong melodic and rhythmic interest. A nearly ten-minute Lento—containing an elaborate fugue—is thoroughly absorbing, and the Allegro finale brilliant. Need I add that the performance is exquisite?

Rudolf Escher (1912-1980) was Pijper’s pupil; his 1943 Sonata concertante is grim, agitated, even tragic music, as befits a composer living in Nazi-occupied Holland who had lost most of his possessions in the 1940 bombardment of Rotterdam. In the opening Allegro agitato, the two instruments seem to be at war, battling against each other. There is little of chamber music here, but the music has enormous dynamic and emotional power. In a nine-minute Lento, with not enough energy to be a funeral march, the nearly silent instruments ignore each other. Both come alive in the finale, but the music no longer wears its heart on a sleeve, so it is difficult to assess its emotional character, hopeful or hopeless.

Audiomax is a recent offshoot of the reliable MDG label. The recorded sound on both discs is reverberant yet intimate, well-suited—and well-balanced—for a cello and a piano. As fine as the CDs are, the SACDs enjoy a clarity that enlivens both instruments, to which surround sound neither adds nor detracts. The Web site www.cellosonate.nl (in English as well as Dutch) tells us that this series is projected to include six CDs; let’s hope the quality of music holds up. There’s no doubt that the performances will: Hochscheid and van Ruth (who writes the program notes) are as fine a cello-and-piano team as you will ever hear."

FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for cello & piano No. 1 by Willem Pijper
Performer:  Doris Hochscheid (Cello), Frans van Ruth (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1919 
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 17 Minutes 18 Secs. 
2. Sonata for cello & piano by Luctor Ponse
Performer:  Doris Hochscheid (Cello), Frans van Ruth (Piano)
Written: 1943 
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 22 Minutes 42 Secs. 
3. Sonata for cello & piano No. 2 by Willem Pijper
Performer:  Doris Hochscheid (Cello), Frans van Ruth (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1924 
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 11 Minutes 35 Secs. 
4. Sonate concertante for Cello and Piano by Rudolf Escher
Performer:  Frans van Ruth (Piano), Doris Hochscheid (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; Netherlands (Holland 
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 22 Minutes 51 Secs. 

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